The snack vegetable radish mix: colourful, healthy, and Best Product of the Year

In the Nederlandse Consumentenverkiezing (Dutch Consumer Election) of 2023-2024, the AH Snack Vegetable Radish Mix, for which Hazera produces and breeds the radish seeds, has been elected as the Best Product of the Year in the category of potatoes, vegetables, and fruit. Dirk-Jan Polak, Crop Specialist in radishes, lamb’s lettuce, and baby carrots, sees the award as a compliment for the entire chain behind this product. “You help people make healthier choices.”

According to Dirk-Jan, the success story of the radish mix begins with genetics. “This ensures that we can continuously deliver high-quality seeds, allowing the grower to produce an excellent final product. Our radishes are beautifully round, have good internal quality, and grow very consistently during different seasons and weather conditions.” As a market leader in radish seeds, seed quality is a top priority at Hazera. “Credit for this goes to the breeders,” says Dirk-Jan. “Through continuous development, we have been able to introduce distinctive radish varieties to the market.”


Unique combination
In addition to genetics and seed quality, it’s the ability to produce radishes in various colors that makes the difference. “Purpella F1 and Whitella F1, purple and white radishes respectively, are the only two colored radish varieties cultivated on a serious scale. And they come from Hazera.” Combined with the well-known red radishes, these colored varieties form the AH Snack Mix. An idea from grower Ortolanda, says Dirk-Jan. “The mix of various colored radishes, sold in top seal packaging, aligns with the growing demand for snack vegetables, Ad Coolbergen, managing director of Ortolanda, explains.


Growing together
“We always keep the consumer in mind, on whose plate our product ultimately ends up. That’s why the collaboration throughout the chain is so important.” Dirk-Jan refers to the cooperation between Hazera, Ortolanda, Bakker Barendrecht (a Greenyard company) and Albert Heijn, from which the award-winning radish mix originated. “Breeding, developing, growing, and marketing these types of products requires craftsmanship.” Ad confirms this. “The successful introduction of a new product in the market requires good chain collaboration, where everyone is on the same page. This way, we can collectively meet the market’s needs and respond to consumer trends.”This has been excellently achieved with the radish mix, says Dirk-Jan. “The trend for 2024 is healthy snacking, where people choose vegetables and fruits instead of candy or chips. This radish mix perfectly addresses this trend, fulfilling two important consumer needs: healthy and convenient snacking.” Ad expects the mix to appeal to an entirely new, mainly younger, target audience. The radishes look appealing, are healthy, and are ready to eat straight from the container. With this product, Albert Heijn makes healthy snacking accessible.” Hazera and Ortolanda are both proud to contribute to this.”


Stay on track
Dirk-Jan is optimistic about the future, both in terms of the product and within the chain collaboration. “Radish is a beautiful vegetable that helps people make healthier choices. The fact that the AH Snack Vegetable Radish Mix has been chosen as the best product is a recognition that, with our breeders and partners, we are on the right path and an encouragement to continue the constant development of such products.”

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Meet the people behind the crops: Dirk-Jan Polak

Meet the people behind the crops: Dirk-Jan Polak

At Hazera, we are proud of our dedicated team, which works passionately to provide our growers with the best products. While our products often grab the headlines, it is the Hazera team who are behind our success. Let’s shine the spotlight on Dirk-Jan Polak (57), a Commercial Crop Specialist from Poortugaal, Netherlands, who plays a vital role in our organization.

Dirk-Jan has agriculture running in his veins. He shares with a smile. “My family history is quite interesting. We are a real food family. We are growers, fishermen, butchers, and bakers. In fact, just near our head office in Oosteind, you can find a bakery, the Bakery Polak, a legacy of my family.” For eight years, Dirk-Jan was a game dealer and built the Hollands Wild brand together with Jo Kloet. “We were the odd ones in the meat world.” Dirk-Jan laughed. “Because Jo had been a marketing director at Rijk Zwaan and I had had my vegetable-cutting company.” He joined Hazera two years ago as a Commercial Crop Specialist for radishes, corn salad, and baby carrots. His dedication to his work and crops is shown in the success of various projects. A recent example is the radish mix, where Dirk-Jan’s contributions played an important part and helped the project earn the prestigious title of Best Product of the Year in the Dutch Consumer Election.

What is a common myth about your job or field of expertise?

When asked about a misconception in his field, Dirk-Jan responds: “Most people who are no longer connected to our agriculture and horticulture hardly realize how professional and efficient we have become, but also how dependent we still are on nature and have to deal with it and every day.’’

In your opinion, what is the most important personality trait someone would need to work in your industry?

Dirk-Jan believes effective communication is crucial in his role as a Commercial Crop Specialist. “I act as the bridge between growers and Hazera, facilitating the flow of needs and solutions. It’s not just about delivering products; it’s about understanding the growers’ challenges, market demands, and regulatory landscapes,” he explains. “So, we can provide them a solution for the right varieties, the right calibers at the right time, in the right place.”

Which project are you proud of and why?

Dirk-Jan said immediately with a smile: “The radish mix was a nice project. It was the idea of a grower at Ortolanda to put three different colored radishes (purple, red, and white) in one box. It kind of looks like a rainbow radish box. This radish mix opened a new, so-called “snack radish” market, which is attractive for a new target group of consumers, the younger generation.” Continues Dirk-Jan with excitement. “It even caught the attention of Albert Heijn, a major Dutch supermarket, positioning radishes in a new, health-focused spotlight. It is also good and healthy for the people because, with the radish mix box, they eat three kinds of radish at once.”

What does “Hazera – Growing Together” mean to you?

“I like this slogan, because we as Hazera, as a breeder, are at the beginning of the whole food chain and this position comes with a great responsibility. That is why it is important to grow together with our growers, and our customers by listening to them and creating varieties that are needed for the markets to be able to feed the world sustainably in the future. This slogan also refers to the great team we have at Hazera that works together.”

Can you tell us something about yourself that most people do not know?

“I am an enthusiastic person, who always thinks of solutions. I think there is a solution to all the problems, but it is very important to communicate with your colleagues and customers. For many years I used to work primarily in Dutch and the transition to work mainly in English has been a bit difficult.” Dirk-Jan admits with a candid smile. “But it is getting better, and I try to be the ambassador and communicator for my crops and role.”

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Follow us our social media channels to stay connected with our Hazera people! If you have any questions left, don’t hesitate to ask them via our contact page!